By Ken DeLaat
Can someone please tell me why Line 5 continues to exist? Is it vital to Michigan’s economy? Does it produce those massive amounts of jobs D.C. and Lansing folks are always promising when they do the smoke and mirrors thing to pass legislation bought and paid for by major corporations? Does it bring down gas prices a penny or two?
Why is this so hard? A Canadian company with a rather checkered record of cleanliness (ask folks around Marshall about the Kalamazoo River rather than believing the expensive commercials on it) has a 60+ year old pipeline running under the Straits of Mackinac, the dividing spot between two of the 5 largest freshwater lakes in the world.
Then read the November 27th agreement between the people charged with working in the state’s best interests (including one would hope the long term type) and the behemoth company with galaxies of cash. An agreement borne partially out of the outcry of citizens who recognize the insanity of the situation. Those who don’t respond favorably to assurances that having a gazillion gallons of oil surging under the Straits will be just fine for an indefinite period with no threat of disaster looming.
To me in reading the agreement it appears either the state either hasn’t got the muscle to do what is necessary or lacks the willingness because…..well….it’s a oil company, right?
It’s as though the state went to Enbridge, hat in hand and asked if they could get a few little compromise crumbs to save face.
Well, they didn’t.
Granted I am rather firmly on the “Shut it down, don’t care what it costs them or anyone else concerned just shut it down” side of things. Mostly because to me it seems that when it comes to business and politics the environmental impact is of no concern whatsoever in the minds of people making huge money decisions. There is a near total lack of ecological integrity in their behavior because quite frankly keeping the flow of money coming in beats the risk of an outflow of oil going out like a full house trumps a baby straight. No question at all. Oh there will be the usual mix of denial and apologetic posing and tons of money (when it gets through court and all at great expense) but there exists no genuine repercussions for doing unspeakable damage.
You can either believe business folks with no environmental skin in the game, or your own awareness of what most assuredly will happen should an oil pipeline be allowed to continue playing ecological chicken with our Great Lakes.
And when you read about the concessions made by Enbridge, for instance the agreement to shut it off during inclement weather and other puny points scored by the State, and then hear that, lo and behold, they already needed to shut her down once this week, recognize what it means. Either it was all for show (my personal take) or the freaking thing is way more vulnerable than previously thought.
And it’s been there 60+ years.
From the Michigan Agency for Energy press release on Tuesday:
High winds and waves in the Straits of Mackinac today has prompted Enbridge Energy to temporarily suspend operation of its Line 5, meeting one of the provisions in a recent agreement between the State of Michigan and Enbridge aimed at safeguarding the Great Lakes.Wave heights reached more than nine feet in the Straits, according to the NOAA Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System (GLCFS) Nowcast model. The agreement between the State and Enbridge Energy Partners calls for the discontinuation of Line 5 operations in the Straits during sustained adverse weather conditions where wave heights reach more than eight feet.
Enbridge told the State that Line 5 was shut down at 11:37 a.m. Tuesday, adding that the company would restart the pipeline when conditions improve.
“The purpose of the State’s agreement with Enbridge was to find practical solutions to concerns we had about the operation of Line 5 and the safety of the Great Lakes,” said Valerie Brader, executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy. “Enbridge’s action today shows the steps outlined in the plan will have immediate and long-term positive outcomes.”
Besides weather-related suspensions of the operation of Line 5, Enbridge must also -- under the Nov. 27 agreement -- conduct a study of the feasibility of placing a new pipeline or the existing dual pipelines in a tunnel in the Straits, assess the installation of underwater technologies to better monitor Line 5, study ways to mitigate the risk of a vessel anchor damaging the Straits pipeline, and evaluate measures to minimize the likelihood of a spill at the approximately 245 bodies of water Line 5 crosses in Michigan.
Demand our representatives not just oppose its continued existence but show a little moxie and take a stand by calling out a few colleagues to show their hand or even get real brave and call out a few in your own party for pity’s sake.
Of all the little and large political machinations the folks in Lansing weave their way through playing their perpetual political games, this one is the real deal. There is no place on earth like the Great Lakes and anyone with any voice who fails to use it to save our shores may endear himself to a group of lobbyists or corporate types or party leaders to be sure but please, don’t insult our intelligence by pretending to be anything other than easily manipulated or cursed with cowardice.
Here’s the skinny on feedback sessions. The first took place in Taylor today (Wednesday).
Public feedback sessions on final Line 5
Alternatives Analysis begin Wednesday
Public feedback sessions regarding the final independent Alternatives Analysis report on the Straits of Mackinac Line 5 pipeline begin this week.
Who: The Michigan Agency for Energy, Michigan Attorney General’s Office, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
When and Where:
Why: The events are an opportunity for the public to suggest the next steps the State should take regarding Line 5 based on the information in the final version of the Alternatives Analysis. The report by independent contractor Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc. analyzed alternatives to using Line 5, owned by Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P., to transport light crude oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisc., through the Straits of Mackinac to Sarnia, Canada. The final report incorporates some changes by Dynamic Risk, as well as some of the public comments that were offered on the draft version of the report.
How else to participate:
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